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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Gani Adams .OPC Leader roars ! My take on February 14 Election in Nigeria

The Text of Welcome Address by Otunba (Dr.) Gani Adams, the Convener of the Oodua Progessive Union at the Leadership Training and Adoption of Programme held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on Monday 26, January 2015

I welcome you all to this leadership training and adoption of programme. 
I am delighted today for two reasons. The first is the growth of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), the organization that I founded along with some Yoruba indigenes living abroad.
The second reason why I feel delighted is the honour of the presence of our brothers and sisters at this leadership training.
I am happy at the passion you have shown towards Yorubaland by your presence at this leadership training. Despite your busy schedule you have honoured our ancestors with your presence.
My prayer is that you will continue to prosper in all your endeavours.
Your Imperial Majesty, Royal Highness and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the journey to the foundation of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) began sometime one night in 2013 while I was resting at the frontage of my house, and thinking about the possible ways to bring together all Yoruba irrespective of places circumstances might have dispersed them.
I thought of ways of mobilizing them for the elevation of our cultural values despite various socio-cultural, economic and political groups, thoughts and opinions they belong in the Diaspora.
From this brain wave, I started discussing with my aides; I told them how the burning idea was on my mind, that I would like to set up an organization that would unite our people across the world, and involve them in the projection of our identity as Yoruba people. We thought of a name for the organization. I suggested the name Oodua Progressive Union (OPU).
This was agreeable to everyone. Then began the organization and we started working towards its development. I am glad that the organization which began and grew from our shared thoughts has continued to blossom.
Today, OPU has been established and registered in more 54 countries across the world.
Your Imperial Majesty, Royal Highness and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, although Africa’s presence in the Diaspora was made possible under unsavory historical circumstances of enslavement (particularly to the Americas) and emigration imposed by stifling economic conditions on the continent to other parts of the world, the continent’s diaspora remain a major but largely underutilized advantage that can give fillip to the Africa’s desire for growth and development. Compared with peoples of other continents of the world, none is well-dispersed and well-placed to contribute meaningfully to economic growth and development of their motherland as Africans and their descendants.
According to World Bank statistics, in 2010 alone, African migrants sent US$40 billion in remittances to their home countries.
These remittances play important roles in reducing the incidence and severity of poverty on the continent.
These remittances has helped many African households diversify their sources of income and has given them opportunities for the much needed savings and capital for investment on the continent. Added to this, Africa’s diaspora can limitlessly provide the intellectual, financial, political, cultural and social capital required for the continent’s growth and development.
However, despite the enormous inherent potentials and benefits that can be derived and translated to development on the continent, in comparative terms, it is sad to note that Africa (particularly Yorubaland) is faced with different challenges and her potentials for greatness is yet to be fully explored, tapped and utilized through her diaspora.
Today, there is limited shared knowledge about not only the continent and her huge untapped and underutilized resources but also the huge opportunities the presence of people of Yoruba descent can confer on their homeland, Nigeria and Africa.
Beyond slavery which accounted for early presence of the Yoruba outside their Yorubaland, emigration of our people has been on since colonial times. Many of our people left Yorubaland to pursue higher education.
Others left our shores to seek other forms of personal development and pursue economic opportunities outside Yorubaland.
Interestingly, Yoruba Diaspora account for one of the biggest presence of people of African descent outside Africa.
In the Diaspora, people of Yoruba descent, who as a result of emigration, represent one of the largest pools of African professionals outside the continent. Sadly, this has not translated to rapid development of Yorubaland.
Despite monetary remittances, the Yoruba Diaspora needs to show greater commitment to the development of Yorubaland.
Their meaningful presence is still required for us to achieve the millennium development goal.
Your Imperial Majesty, Royal Highness and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we need to draw inspirations from the impactful contributions of other diaspora to their homelands and countries. For example, India made largely of Hindus and other ethnic and religious groups continue to impact positively on growing international perception of India globally.
Its Diaspora has contributed to India’s achievement of world-class status by its achievements in a variety of fields of science, arts and culture.
They have been transferring the skills they have acquired outside their country to the people at home.
Like the Indians, the Jewish diaspora continue to dictate the direction of world politics and economy.
They always protect the interest of the Jews worldwide.
Same I am sure is possible of the Yoruba Diaspora if they can take useful examples from the Indians, the Jews and other diaspora that affect the lives of their people positively.
The huge impact our Diaspora can make in our quest to develop our homelands necessitates not only the formation of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) but the call for this meeting and institution of this leadership training programme.
I must confess that I am delighted by your responses.
We need you to assist us in charting the path to the socio-economic development of Yorubaland.
We also need your involvement in the growth of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) and require your support for our motherland, region and our country in general.
I believe that with your presence and membership of the Oodua Progressive Union, we will continue to create a strong bond that will enable us to keep this contact for the progress of our people and country.
In two weeks’ time our country’s general election will begin.
I would have wished your participation if not for exclusion by the virtue of residence outside Nigeria. Nevertheless, I believe Nigerians resident outside the country will someday have opportunity in participating at future elections.
I believe no Nigerian should be excluded from the electoral process irrespective of where they stay. Despite the charged political atmosphere, your presence at this event is a source of hope and encouragement.
Drawing from national events, this programme makes strong statement on the need to get organized and provide the needed leadership for our people. Consequently at this meeting, delegates will learn more about how to provide effective leadership in not only their respective chapters but anywhere such is required.
We wish to use this occasion of this training to plead with our people to eschew violence and ensure free and fair election in February.
As the elections draw nearer, Nigerians should exude the spirit of brotherhood and tolerance. Election gives us the opportunity to vote into office leaders that will meet our yearnings.
As we exercise this constitutional responsibility and lawful right, we must allow peace to reign in our country even after the elections must have taken place. Politicians should not heat up the polity.
The constituencies they aspire to lead should not be thrown into chaos before, during or after the elections.
True leadership begins and continues with responsible conduct before, during and after election.
We should learn from countries that burst into flames after elections.
We should act in ways that promote love, tolerance and peaceful coexistence irrespective of our political leaning.
During this period, parents, community leaders and traditional rulers have some roles to play too. Parents should discourage their children from being used as canon fodders or to fan embers of disorderly behaviour.
Our community leaders should keep preaching peace and continue to encourage harmless coexistence among their subjects.
The Yoruba people are known for peaceful conduct during elections and this election year must not be different.
Our traditional rulers should endeavour to be neutral. They should avoid partisanship.
When they do this, they strengthen the respect for traditional institutions and gain confidence and authority to call lawless subjects and trouble maker to order before, during and after the election.
This season calls for unity among Yoruba monarchs. They should recognize the enormous responsibility on their shoulder as custodian of tradition and cultural values of our people.
Yoruba Obas should be mindful that they must use their positions at all times to protect, promote and sustain cultural and social values in their communities.
This is because Yoruba kings are the deputies of gods (Igbakeji Orisha).
I implore our Imperial Majesties, particularly the Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo to continue to show leadership by accommodating other Yoruba kings and chiefs.
They should set aside all kinds of differences that can impede our peoples’ desire for growth and development of Yorubaland.
You should remember that it is a crack in the wall that facilitates the entrance of the lizard.
Your Imperial Majesty, Royal Highness and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the development of the Yorubaland should be paramount on our minds. We need more investors and investments in our regions.
I therefore use this opportunity to call on the Yoruba sons and daughters living abroad to come home and invest in Yoruba land.
Today, our region is the most peaceful place in Nigeria.
I have been working with the leaders of our esteemed organization, OPC, at all levels to continue to encourage the peace that we are all experiencing.
I assure investors that their investments in any part of Yorubaland will flourish. Be assured that ours is a land of prosperity and anything you sow there will flourish and prosper. Your investments will also enjoy adequate protection of not only the security agencies and the host communities but our organization too. We cannot rely on government alone to provide for the needs of our people. Hence, this meeting and call to the Yoruba Diaspora to assist the process of developing Yorubaland. Let us build our region together and uplift our identity as Omo Oduduwa.
Let me end this address by again showing our appreciation to all our guests, particularly our brothers and sisters based overseas for making it to this event.
It is my hope that this training programme will impart in us new ways of providing effective leadership to our people.
Oodua a gbe wa o! I thank you for your attention.
Otunba (Dr) Gani Adams
National Coordinator Oodua People’s Congress
Convener Oodua Progressive Union,
Chief Promoter Olokun Festival Foundation